A New Pollinator Garden Along the Trinity Trails
Installing a Pollinator Garden at Tarrant County College Northwest Campus
By: Heather Bass, TRWD Conservation Specialist
TCC professors of biology and horticulture approached me looking for guidance on the installation of a pollinator garden in 2019. They had some supplies and the ability to install the garden but needed guidance on the garden’s design and purpose as a pollinator garden. Being a community college, they had little capitol, but needed help.
They gave these parameters for the design:
- Located within a preexisting cleared area within a native prairie recreation
- 6 foot paths for accessibility
- Provides pollinator support
- Outdoor classroom area
- A list of pre-existing plants they had available at the horticulture department
The designated area is located along the trails at Marine Creek, near the TCC NW campus and other public schools. The area was previously a parking lot that was demolished to make way for a natural feature along the trails. After the parking lot was cleared, about 1-2 years previous to the pollinator garden request, soil was treated and seeding was done to recreate a native prairie. Within that area, a clearing was left to accommodate a more formal garden.
Four designs were created with the requests in mind. Gardens differed by the design style, and by the amount of newly purchased plants and materials.
All designs included:
- Native plants with high flowering rates, whose combined bloom times span all seasons
- Nectar plants
- Host plants for butterflies, including Milkweeds for Monarchs
- Water supply for pollinators
- Bare ground for pollinator housing
- Bird houses
- Bat houses
- Woody plants, grasses, vines, and herbaceous flowers
All 4 design options were given to TCC and one was chosen based on aesthetics and function.
The chosen design
Planting was to be done in the spring, so a plant list was prepared early in the year and the plants that were not already in stock were ordered. One cost-saving feature that was employed was ordering plant plugs and growing them out, rather than buying more expensive full-sized plants. Since the horticulture department had the greenhouses and supplies to grow the plants, and students to tend to them, it was important to use existing assets in an efficient way.
Plants being grown out for the garden.
While the plants were in their final growth stages before planting, the site was prepared. During the previous winter, the area was covered with plastic and solarized to kill all unwanted vegetation. Shortly before planting, the plastic was taken up and the soil beneath was tilled. Compost was brought over and incorporated into the top layer of soil.
Site tilled and compost added.
Beginning in April 2019, the design was used to mark all paths and features with flags and spray paint, in preparation for planting. Once it was time for planting in May, plants were brought over in flatbed trucks and students began laying the plants out according to the design.
Site prepped and plants delivered.
Once all the plants were laid out and arranged accordingly, the horticulture students began to dig holes and place the plants. As areas were fully planted, the plants were watered in using a hand wand. After everything was in the ground, all the plants got watered one last time. The following day, mulch was delivered and put in the beds around all the plants.
TCC horticulture class installing the plants.
At first, the plants were watered at a higher rate to make sure they all got properly established and did not suffer from the heat of the summer. Next, edging was secured and boulders used in the outdoor classroom area were put in. After that the gravel paths were filled. Now, the water features and wildlife houses are to be installed.
Most of the plants are in!
The plants have gotten bigger and the garden is starting to look beautiful now, in its second year of growth. Go check it out and take a walk on the trails!
TCC Northwtest Campus
4801 Marine Creek Pkwy, Fort Worth, TX 76179
Northwest edge of campus, on the shore of Marine Creek Lake, near Chisholm Trail High School
Plant growth from Spring to Fall.
Looking over the garden to the lake.
Trellis tunnel soon to be covered in vines.
Front entrance of garden.